ROCK HILL, S.C. - The results of the latest Winthrop Poll, of 837 respondents in South Carolina, taken between Feb. 6 and Feb. 21 (excluding Super Bowl Sunday) are in.
The poll was conducted among those 18 years and older. The survey used Random Digit Dialing (RDD) and wireless phone number sampling. Data utilizing all respondents has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.39 percent. View the complete methodology and full results.
Among the Winthrop Poll findings:
• When it comes to favorability ratings, when you compare the results received by Barack Obama, Lindsey Graham, Jim DeMint, the Congress, Michelle Obama, and Jenny Sanford, South Carolinians gave the highest marks to Michelle Obama – with an overall favorability rating of 58.1 percent, followed closely by Jenny Sanford, with 54.8 percent. Jim DeMint holds a slight approval-ratings edge over Lindsey Graham – 3.2 percent among all respondents – but when only Republicans are looked at, DeMint surpasses Graham by 16.4 percent in the favorability department.
• Overall, almost one-in-four South Carolinians approves of the way Congress is handling its job. But almost 2-out-of-3 don’t and more than 1-in-10 aren’t sure how they feel. Republicans show the most disapproval of Washington, with over 80 percent giving a thumbs-down. Meanwhile, almost 70 percent of their Independent counterparts view Congress negatively.
• South Carolinians give First Lady Michelle Obama an almost 60 percent approval rating – over 10 percent higher than husband Barack Obama. On the other hand, Democrats give both Obamas an almost identical favorability rating of a whopping 85-plus percent.
• Poll results are heartening for Jenny Sanford’s possible political aspirations. Among Republicans, almost 65 percent had a favorable opinion of their first lady. And, even though while out promoting her New York Times best-seller “Staying True,” Sanford said she did not enjoy being first lady, almost 55 percent of South Carolinians said they were pleased with her.
• While respondents weren’t told that the names of the gubernatorial candidates being read to them were running for their respective party’s nomination, or what their current position or political affiliation is, when it comes to favorability among the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor, Andre Bauer – who recently created a firestorm by likening welfare recipients to stray animals – received the highest rating among all respondents, edging out Henry McMaster by slightly over 2 percent.
• Among solely Republican respondents, however, McMaster edged Bauer by 4-plus percent.
• Democrats have their work cut out for them if they want South Carolinians to know who their candidates for governor are. On average, over 75 percent of South Carolinians said they did not know enough about Dwight Drake, Robert Ford, Jim Rex or Vincent Sheheen (Mullins McCloud has withdrawn from the race) to offer a favorable or unfavorable opinion of them.
• Less than 10 percent of SC Republicans feel the economy is doing either very or fairly good. Over double the amount of S.C. Democrats feel that way, while S.C. Independents fall somewhere between the two. No matter what their political affiliation, almost 4-in-10 South Carolinians think the national economy is very bad.
• Almost 70 percent of SC says the past year has hurt their state’s image.
• Almost 60 percent of respondents said they will be spending the same, or more, money as they would have in a normal year, on vacations in 2010.
• Almost one-quarter of those polled said they used the Internet to visit social networking sites.
• During the past 12 months, almost 20 percent of South Carolinians were often or sometimes worried that their food would run out before they could afford to buy more.
• Almost 95 percent of South Carolinians describe themselves as “very happy” or “somewhat happy.”
The Winthrop Poll is paid for by Winthrop University and is partially underwritten by the West Forum on Politics and Policy at Winthrop University. Winthrop is a public university offering bachelor's and master's degrees in Rock Hill, S.C.